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Marlborough, New ZealandBlenheim History

Blenheim | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

Blenheim is New Zealand's largest grape-growing and wine-making region, and has offered safe harbour to travellers for centuries.

Blenheim History Overview

For centuries, Blenheim has offered safe harbour to travellers. First to Maori traders and war parties; then to European explorers, such as Captain James Cook and Dumont D'Urville; and now to visitors seeking new landscapes and rejuvenating experiences.

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Sailing Marlborough Sounds, Marlborough, New Zealand
Sailing Marlborough Sounds
Marlborough, New Zealand
Photographer Ivor Wilkins
(ivorw@xtra.co.nz)

If you arrive in the region by sea or air, the intricate detail of the Marlborough Sounds engages your interest immediately.

Early History

Maori legend describes the entire South Island as Maui's waka (canoe), wrecked on a reef during a fishing expedition. The shattered bow of the canoe became the Sounds.

In the 1840's, Captain Cook sighted New Zealand and European colonisation began.

Early history of the region involved close ties with Nelson. However the European settlers to the Marlborough region wanted independence from Nelson, and in 1859 Malborough became a seperate province.

Today Blenheim is a vibrant wine growing region, with numbers swelling in the summer months.

Pelorus Bridge

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Wairau Plain wineries, Marlborough, New Zealand
Wairau Plain Winery
Marlborough, New Zealand
Photographer: Ian Trafford
(www.iantraffordphotos.com)

Pelorus Bridge crosses a valley that was once the site of a massacre of the Ngati Kuia and Ngati Apa tribes by the Maori chief Te Rauparaha. These tribes came from the North Island coast, west of Wellington.

The first Europeans to arrive in 1843 found a few remaining Maori people producing flax for Te Rauparaha. The original route to Nelson went through the reserve site and over the Maungatapu Saddle. Later, the path that the road follows today was discovered, and a bridge was built across the Pelorus River around 1860.

The Pelorus Bridge location was set aside for a future township, but in the early 1900s this was changed to preserve the area's natural beauty. The present bridge was built in the 1950s.

The Pelorus Bridge is located about halfway between Blenheim and Nelson, and crosses the Pelorus River. The beautiful scenic reserve here has some of the most accessible examples of mature native forest in the Marlborough region.

Blenheim Accommodation

Blenheim is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation options:

View more Blenheim Accommodation options.

Useful Blenheim Links

To help plan your Blenheim holiday choose from the main categories below:


Blenheim Region Information


Blenheim Tourism Operators

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Featured

 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

Distinction Hotels

Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.